“Hidden Figures,” directed by Theodore Melfi, unfolds a gripping story of inequality and intelligence in the 1960s NASA space program. The story focuses on the roles of three African-American women who helped send astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and Mary (Janelle Monáe) work for NASA, struggling to be seen beyond race and gender.
Katherine is a genius mathematician and mother who has the hardest time proving her intelligence to the men trying to stop her from using her astounding ability. Dorothy is the guardian figure of the three but wants to prove she’s more than that. Mary is the firecracker of the bunch who works with technology within the space program. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind with candor and humor.
The director doesn’t shy away from addressing the many levels of discrimination and the struggles of the individuals caught in a system slow to change. The dialogue in the film is one of the best parts — you just can’t wait to hear what these women have to say because when they say it their wit and ability is satisfying and fabulous.
Kevin Costner’s character is the biggest catalyst of change in the film, giving these women opportunities to show what they’re capable of. Jim Parson’s character is despicable throughout, and you want to see him proven wrong. It’s a nice role reversal from his usual genius persona.
Although the story is hard hitting, it’s not complicated. While it entertains, it shows clearly the struggles of 1960s women and African-Americans. Viewers will come away with a broadened perspective of the hard work three African-American women put in to send a man into space.